NASCAR’s France: No fine for Keselowski’s comments


In an interview on Fox Business Network, NASCAR chairman Brian France has said that Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski would not be fined for his angry comments against the sanctioning body following Saturday’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“That’s the beauty of NASCAR – we do allow the drivers to express themselves in that way, even if they say things that we disagree with,” France said. “I certainly disagree with everything that he said, but look, they’re frustrated, this is the most intense racing in the world. Not surprising that every once in a while, when things don’t go your way, you blow off a lot of steam.”

Keselowski attacked NASCAR for what he saw as unfair targeting of his Penske Racing team after finishing ninth in the race on Saturday night. He and teammate Joey Logano failed pre-race inspection and had the rear-end housings on both of their cars confiscated; Logano’s car was rolled onto the starting grid just before the field went out for their pace laps.

“The things I’ve seen over the last seven days have me questioning everything I believe in,” Keselowski said in his expletive-laced tirade.

After France commented on Keselowski, the Fox Business interviewer then brought up Denny Hamlin’s $25,000 fine earlier this season for critical comments against the new Generation-6 cars and asked France why he was fined and Keselowski would not be.

“The line that we draw is, you can’t criticize racing product,” France explained. “You can criticize our decisions, criticize everything else, which is more than any other sport might allow. But just don’t go talking about ‘Our racing product isn’t the best in the world,’ because it is.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.